January 28, 2014

Roy D. Eberhard, World War I Soldier: 52 Ancestors

For most of Roy Eberhard’s young life, there wasn’t time to consider much beyond the farm and schoolhouse. Born March 9, 1894, the second oldest of Llewellyn and Mary Eberhard’s passel of kids, he naturally shouldered responsibility for chores around his father’s dairy farm. There was always milking to be done, not to mention making deliveries, hauling water, chopping wood, and helping with the animals and feed crops.

But as Roy passed his 20th birthday, the world started to intrude. More and more news filtered into the local papers, news of hostilities and battles taking place on a distant continent. By the time he turned 23, it became all too clear that even a poor farm boy from central Ohio couldn’t avoid facing the storm in Europe.

On June 3, 1917, Roy made his way to the Orange Township draft board office in Delaware County. He registered his birth date and place, age, address, occupation, employer, and marital status, as the law required. His stature, build, and color of his eyes and hair were duly noted.1

The U.S. Army called Roy into service four months later, on October 5, 1917. My grandmother—his little sister, Nora—recalled everyone was proud of him, but her mother was worried the whole time he was gone.

Roy Eberhard Delaware County Ohio WW1
Roy Eberhard, Delaware County, Ohio, 1917

Private First Class Roy Eberhard served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France for nearly a year, from June 1918 to May 1919. He was assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 324th Field Artillery, under the command of Colonel T. Q. Ashburn.2 The 324th was a horse-drawn, heavy artillery regiment. The troops endured difficult marches in which they transported large cannons over frequently muddy roads, without motorized assistance. Once they arrived at a battle site, they moved the cannons into position and awaited orders to fire.

Pvt. Eberhard participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, also known as the Battle of Argonne Forest, in fall 1918. The offensive involved over a million American and French troops under the command of General Pershing. The 324th Field Artillery was attached to the 32nd Division. According to Col. Ashburn, the 324th moved “across the Meuse at Dun, thence to Velosnes, thence into position at Bois d’Ecurey November 10th, 1918. It again attacked on the morning of November 11th, and fired retaliation fire after the armistice was announced, up to 10:25 A.M., being the last shots delivered by the 32nd Division in the war.”

The men had to wait for 600 fresh horses before starting the long trek through France and into Germany in December. They spent the winter of 1919 near the Rhine River. On April 22nd, they finally began returning home.3 Pvt. Eberhard received his honorary discharge in June.

Roy settled back into civilian life, married, and had two sons. He began a career with the railroads. With his military service and youth behind him, Roy David Eberhard probably thought the U.S. Army was done with him. Even when the news from Europe turned grim again, and young men geared up to say goodbye to their loved ones like he had two decades earlier, he could rest on the assurance that he had already done his part.

Imagine the sense of déjà vu, then, when he found himself back in front of the draft board at the age of 48.4


1. “U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 25 Jan 2014), Roy D. Eberhard (Delaware County, Ohio); U.S. Selective Service System, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1818, NARA microfilm publication M1509, roll 1832192.

2. Ohio Adjutant General’s Department, Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917-18 (F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1926), p. 4628, Roy D. Eberhard; database and digital images, “Ohio Soldiers in WWI, 1917-1918,” Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 25 Jan 2014).

3. T. Q. Ashburn, History of the 324th Field Artillery, United States Army (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1919), p. 24-25; digital copy, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/historyof324thfi00ashb : accessed 25 Jan 2014). Images used here appear on page 10 and page 80.

4. “U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 Nov 2013), Roy David Eberhard (Franklin County, Ohio); U.S. Selective Service System, Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration; FHL microfilm 2,372,762.

© Shelley Ballenger Bishop 2014

This is the fourth in a series of family history stories written for the blogging prompt “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks,” coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow, CG, author of No Story Too Small.

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January 21, 2014

52 Ancestors #3: Marilyn Ballenger, the Aunt I Never Knew

In my last two posts, I wrote about how my grandfather, Lloyd Ballenger, began his 50-year tenure at Reeb’s Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, in 1933. I also shared how my grandmother, Nora Belle Eberhard, met and fell in love with him, leading to their elopement on March 30, 1935. I’ll continue their story this week, although it’s a much harder chapter to tell.

In 1936, the young couple lived in an apartment at 535 Oakwood Ave. on the near east side of Columbus, within easy walking distance of Reeb’s. Nora was thrilled when she found out she was pregnant early in the year. She endured a long, hot summer in the apartment, chatting with her neighbors in the morning and walking down to the restaurant in the afternoon, when the lunchtime rush was over. All of the employees and many regular customers knew she was expecting.

On August 9, 1936, Nora gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. They named her Marilyn Sue Ballenger. Lloyd received hearty congratulations, cigars, and free drinks from his many well-wishers at Reeb’s. Nora delighted in visits from her sisters and friends. Even though it was her first child, Nora had a lot of experience with babies from helping her mother tend her five younger siblings. She knew what to do when Marilyn fussed.

As the humid days of August gave way to blue September skies, Nora started taking Marilyn down to Reeb’s on her afternoon walks, happily pushing the baby carriage in front of her. Her daughter would nap in the carriage while she talked and laughed with the waitresses. It was a golden month.

But in mid-October, something went terribly wrong. Marilyn caught a cold, or so it seemed; she rasped, wheezed, and cried, and nothing Nora did seemed to settle her down. After a long day and night with the inconsolable baby, Nora took her to the doctor. Decades later, she would remember the shock of that Tuesday afternoon as clearly as if it just happened.

The doctor told Nora that he was sorry, but something was wrong with little Marilyn’s heart. He couldn’t do anything for her. There was no medicine, no surgery, nothing that would fix it. She had the pneumonia now, but even if she got over that, it wouldn’t cure what was wrong with her heart. The best thing Nora could do was take her home and love her for the time she had left. He was so sorry.

By Saturday morning, October 17, 1936, Marilyn's struggles were over. She was nine weeks old.

I can’t imagine how incredibly hard those four days must have been for my grandparents. When she told me the story, more than fifty years after it happened, Nora couldn’t hold back the tears. The pain in her own heart was still fresh.

In her grief, Nora realized she had no photograph, nothing to remember Marilyn by. They didn’t own a camera. Lloyd found a neighbor with a camera, and his wife helped Nora dress the baby. The neighbor kindly took a picture of Lloyd and Nora with their first-born daughter, now laying peacefully in Nora’s lap. It was hard to do at the time, but the picture brought Nora some comfort in the years that followed.

Marilyn was buried in Otterbein Cemetery in Westerville, Ohio. She rests today next to Lloyd's brother, Dwight “Smokey” Ballenger, and his wife. Even though her parents are not there, little Marilyn has plenty of family at Otterbein Cemetery. Her paternal grandparents Charles and Irene Ballenger, great-grandparents James and Anna Ballenger, and great-great-grandparents Charles and Rebecca Jane Ballenger are all there. Her maternal grandparents, Llewellyn and Mary Eberhard, are in a different section of the historic cemetery.

In writing this, I hope to preserve Marilyn’s story, and honor my grandparents’ memories. Marilyn’s life was short, but she was never forgotten. Perhaps this will help ensure she never will be.

Certificate citation: “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed 5 April 2011), death certificate no. 62724 (1936), Marilyn Sue Ballenger; citing original records, Ohio Department of Health, held at Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.

© Shelley Bishop 2014

This is the third in a series, “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks,” coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small.

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January 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #2: Love Wins Out for Nora Eberhard

As one of 18 children born to Llewellyn and Mary (Comfort) Eberhard, Nora Eberhard’s childhood days were filled with household chores, hand-me-down clothes, and long walks to a one-room schoolhouse from the family’s dairy farm. By the time she reached her 20s, the Great Depression had set in. Nora moved to nearby Westerville, Ohio, where she boarded with a local couple while working at the Kilgore Manufacturing Company. Her job was to insert rivets into Kilgore’s toy cap pistols. It gave her great satisfaction to see the finished toy pistols and know she had a part in making them.

Nora also enjoyed getting to know her co-workers. One of the girls on the Kilgore riveting line with her was Florence Ballenger. When Nora needed a new place to stay, Florence invited her to board with her family. Florence’s parents, Charles and Irene Ballenger, agreed to the plan.

Lloyd Ballenger, Florence’s brother, quickly took notice of his sister’s friend. Lloyd was working at a diner in downtown Westerville when they met, but started a new job at Reeb’s Restaurant on the east side of Columbus in 1933. His long hours at the restaurant left little time for meeting girls. He began courting Nora, taking her to house parties and going for drives in friends’ cars. Even though Westerville, “The Dry Capital of the World,” was the national headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League, the young couple still found ways to have fun.1

By early 1935, Nora and Lloyd decided to get married. There was only one problem. Nora’s mother, Mary, had gotten very upset by events at the wedding of one of her other daughters, swearing she never wanted to attend another wedding. There wasn’t enough money for a wedding, anyway. They quietly hatched a plan, telling only Florence and her boyfriend, Gordon Meeks.

Two weeks after her 25th birthday, on March 30, 1935, Nora did her dark hair up in tight curls and put on a new white dress. Lloyd donned his best suit and shiny black shoes. In the early morning hours, Gordon drove the foursome down the 3-C Highway in his Model A Ford to the state border at Cincinnati. They crossed over the Ohio River and into Boone County, Kentucky. At the parsonage of a Baptist church in Walton, Nora and Lloyd found a minister willing to marry them. With Florence and Gordon standing by, they said their vows. All their hard work melted away as they stood on the steps of the parsonage, beaming, for their first picture as husband and wife.

They registered their marriage at the courthouse later the same day:2

When they returned home, the newlyweds announced their marriage to their families and settled into an apartment that Lloyd had moved into earlier. A short notice appeared in the Westerville Public Opinion:

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ballenger of Westerville announce the marriage of their son, Lloyd, to Miss Nora Eberhard, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Eberhard of Center Village. The marriage took place Saturday, March 30, at Walton, Ky. Miss Florence Ballenger, sister of the groom, and Mr. Gordon Meeks of Columbus were the attendants. The couple are residing at 1186 E. Main St., Columbus.3

Fifty years later, in March 1985, Nora and Lloyd celebrated their golden anniversary surrounded by friends and family. In a way, it was the wedding they never had.


1. “Westerville, Ohio,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westerville,_Ohio: accessed 13 January 2014).
2. Boone County, Kentucky, marriage certificate no. 218 (1935), Lloyd R. Ballenger and Nora Belle Eberhard; Kenton County Clerk’s Office, Covington, Kentucky.
3. “Lloyd R. Ballenger and Miss Eberhard Marry,” Public Opinion (Westerville, Ohio), 4 April 1935, p. 2, col. 4.

 © Copyright 2014 Shelley Bishop
This is the second in a new series, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks," coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

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January 7, 2014

52 Ancestors #1: Lloyd Ballenger and Reeb's Restaurant

Lloyd Ballenger Reeb's Restaurant Columbus Ohio
Lloyd Ballenger behind the counter at Reeb's Restaurant, May 1955

When 17-year-old Lloyd Ballenger took a job at a diner in Westerville, Ohio, at the beginning of the Depression, he was just helping his family make ends meet. By the time he left for bigger and better things a few years later, he knew he had found his life’s calling. For fifty years, Lloyd was an employee, manager, co-proprietor, and owner of Reeb’s Restaurant, located at 1041 E. Livingston Ave. east of downtown Columbus.

Reeb’s was founded as a bar and lunch counter by Ed Reeb in 1911. My grandfather, Lloyd, came on board in 1933, and in 1939 Reeb named him manager. Reeb and his wife didn’t have any children, so when he passed away, he left shares of the restaurant to four trusted employees. Lloyd Ballenger and one of the others, Fred West, operated and expanded Reeb’s in the 1940s and ‘50s.

The night of February 1, 1955, Reeb’s suffered a devastating fire that gutted the inside of the building. Columbus firefighters responded admirably, but only the red brick exterior survived. Thanks to a good insurance policy, Reeb’s employees continued to draw full pay during the four-month remodeling process.

Reeb's Restaurant fire Columbus Ohio
Fire at Reeb's Restaurant, Columbus, February 1, 1955

On reopening day—May 23, 1955—Lloyd was photographed in his usual place behind the counter, where he could greet returning customers coming in the door. Columbus Citizen columnist Ben Hayes noted, “What a busy corner! They stood in line for lunch (the line extending into the street) and the same thing happened in the evening. The bright newness was fine, sure—but they reached avidly for the menu. The turtle soup, the onion soup, the bean soup—yes, it was all there. And the roast beef and the steaks and the chops. And the strawberry shortcake: That is the flavor of Reeb’s cuisine.”1

Reeb's Restaurant Columbus Ohio
Reeb's Restaurant, 1041 E. Livingston at Champion Ave., Columbus, Ohio

My father, Ed Ballenger, joined his father in the business in 1959. Lloyd and Ed ran Reeb’s together throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, and into the ‘80s. We had a big celebration when Lloyd reached the fifty-year mark with Reeb’s in 1983. But by then, the inner city neighborhood around the restaurant had fallen into serious decay. I know closing the door on Reeb’s was one of the most difficult things my father and grandfather ever had to do. The building was demolished in 2010.

In my mind’s eye, I can still picture Lloyd standing in his customary spot behind the bar, presiding over the corner of Livingston and Champion avenues. Oh, what I would give to sit at that counter again.


1. Ben Hayes, “Around Columbus,” Columbus Citizen (Columbus, Ohio), 25 May 1955. Loose clipping in author’s collection.

 © Copyright 2014 Shelley Bishop

This is the first in a new series, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

You might also enjoy:

January 6, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Accepting the Challenge

Do you ever feel like your ancestors are calling out to you? Me, me, me, they clamor, each one yearning for his or her story to be told. I get that feeling a lot. That’s why I’m excited about Amy Johnson Crow’s new challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. She’s inviting bloggers and others who want to share their ancestors’ stories to link up with her blog, No Story Too Small. She's already had a great response to her idea.

I’m looking forward to participating by sharing short stories, photos, records, traditions, and snippets of family history throughout 2014. Because I could spend a lot of time just debating which ancestors to feature, I’ve decided to start at the beginning of my pedigree chart and more or less work my way through. Of course, I might take a detour here and there to highlight a more distant uncle, aunt, or cousin, but that's part of the fun.

I’m getting ready to share my first story, about my paternal grandfather and the restaurant he operated for half a century, with you tomorrow. I hope you'll like this new series. Stay tuned…


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